It seems that the actions of the Tourism Authority and the Lands Department affecting umbrella and sunbed operators on Malta’ beaches have served a positive purpose.
From information we obtained and at a random glance over several beaches it was highly noticeable that operators are acting within the regulations, including operators who were inspected but also those who were not by enforcement authorities.
From a quick tour around popular bays, mostly in the north of Malta, it is highly evident that the sunbeds and umbrellas of operators are no longer predominating over the beaches. At the popular Torri l-Abjad Bay, the greater part of the bay is now free for the public to enjoy, including those who do not wish to hire any equipment.
Half of the bay at Little Armier is free from encumbrance and is being enjoyed by the public although the operator there has a permit to be able to occupy half of the bay with equipment.
Operators at Armier Bay are also keeping within the regulations and the front part of the sands at the sea edge are free for the public to enjoy, their equipment has been placed half-way up the sands.
The Paradise Bay operator is also voluntarily occupying the area that is permissible by his permit and this small bay has not been filled with sunbeds although the operator has requested an extension because of demand.
At most popular Għadira Bay the kiosk operators serving food are operating within their permits which prohibit them from placing tables and chairs beyond the platform they occupy. Other operators who hire out sunbeds and umbrellas are also sticking to their permit limitations.
However, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi told TVM the situation at Għadira could be even better had not different concessions been given in 2012 when 15-year leases were granted.
He said that currently enforcement is taking place but the step to follow is to become more organised although there had been improvement in the current summer. He said that a ‘multi agency team’ will be introduced to ensure that all permits are regulated and greater coordination will take place before new concessions are granted and this will cover the Lands Department, Transport Malta and MITA, as well as all other interested agencies. He said that eventually a plan will be developed for all bays to ensure that concessions granted will conform to the plans for each bay.
We also paid a visit to the Fra Ben area in Qawra where the operator had challenged the authorities leading to greater enforcement measures including the closure of his kiosk. The kiosk has now been re-opened but the bay is no longer occupied by sunbeds and they are only issued from the kiosk when a client hires them.
The bays under the hotels Qawra Palace, Suncrest and Sunny Coast were found to be free of operator sunbeds and umbrellas as the operators are voluntarily sticking to their permits to avoid the enforcement measures taken in other areas.